A social media share link is a URL that when clicked populates a set message and image that can be shared on social media. They are useful for amplifying your message and minimizing the time it takes someone to compose a social media message about your content.
You know that feeling when you see or read something fantastic and you just have to share it with every human you know? (I get that feeling a lot when I read BuzzFeed and Upworthy.) When I get that urge to share stuff, the first thing I do is glance quickly around the website for social sharing links so I can pass on whatever I'm reading with just the click of a button.
But when the social sharing buttons aren't there, well ... sometimes I just don't feel like opening up a new tab, logging in to a social networking site, creating a new post, and manually pasting the URL I want to share into it.
Yeah I know, it's kinda lazy -- but then again, 40% of people will abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load. Think about it: A lot of people get frustrated or just don't do things on the internet if it takes even a few extra seconds. That could translate to a lot of people not sharing your webpage who normally would.
When you spend all that time creating cool content, you want people to share it. You can make your content more share-friendly by adding social sharing links that are visible and lead to pre-populated posts.
Before we get into how to create them, let's quickly review what social sharing links are.
What Are Social Sharing Links?
Social sharing links are those small, clickable social media icons lurking on the pages of ebooks, blog posts, and other webpages. When a viewer clicks on one, she is sent straight to a social media site with an update pre-populated with your content.
Here's an example of social sharing buttons from a page of a HubSpot ebook. Notice the links are in the form of social media icons -- I'll show you how to make your own later on.
You can create social sharing links just like these and put them right into your ebooks, blogs, and webpages -- all in just a few minutes. Here are examples of what they'll look like when you're done. (Go ahead, try 'em out!)
Pretty cool, eh? Now -- let's learn how to make them.
Meet the Share Link Generator
The Share Link Generator is an awesome free tool on the web that helps you create social sharing links for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest quickly and easily.
How does it work? We'll get to the long version in a second, but here's the short version:
Copy the URL of whatever you want to share.
Paste that URL into the Share Link Generator (along with a few accompanying words or hashtags, depending which social network you're posting to).
Press a button, and it spits out a brand new URL and HTML link, which you can then put on your webpages to lead viewers to social networking sites that are pre-populated with whatever URL and accompanying words or hashtags you put in.
Now that you get the general idea of how it works, let's get into the step-by-step.
2) Choose the social network you want people to share your content on.
The Share Link Generator lets you post to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
3) Fill in the blanks.
For Facebook, all you need is a URL. Facebook disabled custom share fields in February 2014, so you can't pre-populate viewers' Facebook shares with your own words or hashtags. They'll have to write that in themselves.
For LinkedIn, you need a URL, a Title, and a Summary. The Summary is optional on the website, but don't leave it out: It gives viewers context that could compel them to click on the link. Include a shortened link in the Summary copy to optimize your LinkedIn post.
For Pinterest, you need the URL of the image you want to pin (which you can get by right-clicking on the image in your browser and choosing "Copy Image URL"), the source of the image (e.g. the website where you want the image to link to from Pinterest), and a description to give the image context.
Once you've filled in those blanks, click "Create the Link!" and keep the resulting URL and HTML link handy. Here's an example of a Twitter share link I made:
What's the difference between "URL only" and "HTML link"?
You can put the HTML link directly into the HTML editor of your website. The result will be the words "Share on Twitter" hyperlinked with the share link. You can change that text by deleting "Share on Twitter," which I've highlighted in the image above, and replacing it with the text you want.
But sometimes, you may want social sharing links in the form of icons, not words, to catch the reader's eye. To make images like icons clickable, you only need to worry about that URL only link.
4) Download a social button icon.
If you already have social media icons or images, you can skip this step. If not, check out our library of 135 free icons for marketers. You can download and use them for free -- without any licensing or attribution -- wherever you please on your website. And if you want to change the color of any of these icons, they come with a free guide for how to do that using PowerPoint.
5) Make the icons clickable using your share link.
Your goal is to make your social icon clickable so it sends viewers to the share link. The exact steps here vary depending on your CMS. First, upload the icon image into your CMS' file manager and insert it into your website. Then, go back to the Share Link Generator and copy the content of the "URL only" box.
Finally, link the icon image to that URL. (In HubSpot, that means highlighting the image, clicking the "Insert/edit link" button, and pasting the share link URL there.) Here's what the final product looks like:
That's all, folks. Wasn't that quick? Now you're ready to add social share links anywhere on your website. Have fun with it!
Originally published Jun 6, 2014 4:04:00 PM, updated October 18 2018